Elizabeth Makes It Official: <br>The Queen Backs Brexit <br>And Era of Independence

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“My government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union.” With these words Queen Elizabeth today officially opened the 57th Parliament. With the first session scheduled to last two years, it should give the Conservative government sufficient time to concentrate on exiting the European Union by March 2019. So the British ship of state has cleared its decks for Brexit.

As if to emphasize the seriousness of the moment, the State Opening lacked the pomp and circumstance of past years, with the Imperial Crown simply being carried in procession and Her Majesty foregoing the state coach to arrive by limousine and wearing not her ceremonial regalia but a bright blue dress and matching hat. The speech itself was a model of brevity, listing in curt succession the future agenda of the Government.

Many of the economic consequences of Brexit were foreshadowed by the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, to the Mansion House yesterday. Clearly stung by the results of a snap election meant to strengthen Prime Minister May’s hand, not weaken it, Mr. Hammond admitted that Tories “must make anew the case for a market economy and for sound money” and how “stronger growth must be delivered through rising productivity” as “the only sustainable way to deliver better public services, higher real wages and increased living standards.”

The Chancellor then delivered the strongest case for Britain’s independence — away from the European Union and toward global opportunities: “That means more trade, not less; maintaining our strong trade links with European markets after we leave the EU, as well as seeking out new opportunities for trade and investment with old friends and fast growing emerging economies alike.”

Yet it was evident in the Queen’s Speech that Conservative election promises “to improve the public finances, while keeping taxes low” have already taken a hit, in an effort to counter Labor’s rebound. Measures to reduce the Government’s role in welfare and pension provisions will be scrapped, whereas further interventions into business practices were announced.

These will come through “a new modern industrial strategy” and an increased National Living Wage, or addressing “the gender pay gap” and “fairer markets for consumers” (such as housing and energy). The will of government bureaucrats will replace entrepreneurial initiative and market discipline, with one fatal consequence: unlike the private sector, the public sector is immune to market demand and thus unresponsive to the signals that determine profit or loss.

Reporters were quick to note that the Queen made no mention of an official state visit by President Trump (while welcoming Spain’s king and queen next month). Mr. Trump angered London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, by criticizing the mayor’s call for calm amid terrorist attacks, purportedly telling prime minister Theresa May that he would not visit England with the prospect of unruly protests and confrontations.

Meanwhile, a Downing Street spokesman reassured that “an invitation has been extended and accepted,” having been omitted from the Queen’s Speech “because a date has not been fixed.” It would be possible to make too much of this, but also too little — given that work on a British American trade pact is moving like molasses in January. It may be that Mr. Trump would rather wait until a deal is done.

A recent Chatham House survey found that “Brexit has caused a gulf of opinion between ‘elites’ and Europe’s general population” and that while the Establishment “were notably more optimistic about the future and committed to a common set of European values,” it was a different story among the wider population, with “simmering discontent . . . over a range of political issues — from immigration to the power of Brussels — with large sections viewing the EU in negative terms.”

Prime Minister Disraeli always argued that British monarch and citizens were united by common bonds of patriotism — “when in the anxious conjuncture of public affairs, the nation rallies round . . . the Throne” — and both equally thwarted by self-interested elites who “endeavored to substitute cosmopolitan for national principles.” It’s a suitable formulation for today, when Elizabeth and her people stand, in Brexit, for their ancient rights and prerogatives.

The New York Sun

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